Thursday, June 07, 2012

RunWithMe Running App Reviewed

Fancy an Apps that will track your run (pace and distance) against another person in real time? Say, if you are in Kuala Lumpur and a friend in Penang, you both would love to run together but the distance does not permit you to do so unless you are both meeting up face to face?

In come runWithMe from Kaiser & Kaiser. They introduced their new Sports app that allows two runners to run together, even if they are on different continents. Mutually agreeing on a start time and distance, each runner’s iPhone periodically announces aloud elapsed time, distance covered, and their running-mate’s relative position, ahead or behind. With live voice feedback in English, French, German, or Spanish, the app allows runners to pace each other, remotely, from any location on earth.
As the apps provides feedback for any practice, training or race done outdoors over a distance, it is equally effective for other outdoor sports such as canoeing, skiing, cycling, etc., runWithMe allows friends to workout together no matter where they are. Based on the built-in GPS of the iPhone, the app is easy to set up, and it requires no accounts, registration, or login. Athletes can listen to iPod music while running, and results can be easily uploaded to RunKeeper and Twitter.
I was given access to this apps for review with Jamie Pang and last Tuesday, we had the chance to try it out. Setting the run was not difficult as all it takes is either one party to set the run up (up to an hour before the run) and send the link to the other party to be activated.
Jamie sent me an sms informing me of the run. All i did was click on the link
 The hardest part of the whole setup is to agree with the time to run/practice/train/race. Potentially, if two parties is on different time zone, it could pose an issue. But without looking too far of a time zone, this is how KL (or more specifically KLCC Park) versus Damansara Utama looked like.
And so, the run setup by Jamie was scheduled
I left office the moment i got the sms and it took me a painfully slow 30+minutes to reach home. As i had a running date with wifey as well, having another "virtual" partner running with us ain't too bad. It also provided an opportunity to test the apps out. 
Hurry Hurry Get Home Soon!
Specifically, I would want to see how the apps will react and work under different condition and the accuracy of the pace and distance. Armed with my Garmin 910XT to compare, i found the pace to be pretty much the same (as the ability of any GPS enable device will differ based on the hardware and software). and pretty usable. I was told that Jamie started the run much earlier and when the run started, the apps started recording the details.
Blue GPS meaning good reception. The first three lines shows your progress. Last line is Jamie's distance from you.
Ideally, if two person were to run together, they will endeavour to run at the same pace. After all, that is what having a running partner for. So, the tracking on this device pretty much allows, or will tell how much you are ahead or behind your running partner.
Stupe trailing Jamie by 25m....
As reported by Jamie in his blog, he started the run ahead of me, so, naturally, i was trailing him. Knowing how strong Jamie is and how he was down/recovering from a bout of flu, i tried catching up with him. Jamie is a strong runner. He can have me for breakfast any day with or without warm up.
Opps...leading further despite me running faster!
The apps, allow you to play MUSIC very much like the iPod function and you can choose what songs you want to include into your running/training. Pretty nifty in a simple apps package. Gives you only what you need, not more than that. I found out later than Jamie stopped his run after 2km and i continued my run with wifey. That has allowed me to catch up and overtook him.
Catching up with Grand Master
I then received a SMS from Jamie informing me that he has ended his exercise but i allowed the apps to continue to run to see if it still works if the other party stopped or ended his exercise. Apparently, it keeps recording and feeding back to the other party. I ended the run at KM3 and there is an option to "Post Result".
Clicking on the "Post Result" button brings me to the Twitter window where i can upload and boast/cry about the run result. :) Perfect way to talk $hit with your fellow runner.
Thank goodness Grand Master had flu! Else, I will be 760m behind!
The twitter intergration works great and (i had to borrow the screen capture from Jamie below) it will broadcast the results all your followers in Twitter to see.
Taken from Jamie's Blog on runWithMe app Review
The apps will have a voice over (male or female, you choose) and will provide voice feedback on all the stats shown in the apps. The apps send small packet of information via the mobile network and provide the updates. Do not get alarmed if you see screen like the one below.
Small data only. Insignificant if you have data plan
The default speech synthesis is using an online service. However, there is an alternative voice of lower quality that can be run without Internet connection. You can disable (the Internet voice synthesis) by clicking on Settings-->Voice Feedback and switch the last option to OFF. That way, you possibly will save on some data being transmitted. Bear in mind, however, is that the "syncing" between the two parties still requires data, albeit in a smaller packet.

If you are interested with this Apps, you will need:
  1. An iPhone 3G/3GS/4/4S, iPad (1,2,3) Wi-Fi + 3G with iOS 4.1 and above (Apps tested on iPhone4 on 5.1.1)
  2. A data plan but according to the developer, the data consumption is minimal. 
  3. A running partner, obviously. Preferably within the same time zone or not too far off (like within 2 or 3 hours time differences), as this will allow almost similar running time without having one running in the middle of the night, while the other in the afternoon.
  1. No registration needed, no emails, user name needed. You can even name your friend something else...
  2. Simplistic GUI. No drama. Click and Go.
  3. You now can race against a friend virtually - in real time.
  4. Simple to set up, just one page and you are done.
  5. Allows you to select songs from within a play list rather than take the entire play list.
  1. Does not allow "appointment" to be set beyond ONE HOUR waiting period. I.e. the run you set up has to be started within an hour. Apparently, this was designed in such ways to ensure that the latest run will always be at the top.
  2. The apps does not allow you to set, for example, a 5km run or a 10km run. Good example is during the testing, Jamie stopped at Km2, I went ahead for 3km. If a common distance could be set, runners will be more committed to the distance.
  3. The integration is only to RunKeeper and Twitter. Something to DailyMile or to Facebook would be good.
The app is available at the iTunes Store for USD0.99. However, an SMS from Jamie confirms that the Apps is FREE for now. We Malaysians LOVE free stuff. Go download it here
Disclaimer: The app developer, Kaiser & Kaiser, provided Jamie with 2 courtesy codes to test drive the app. Jamie's review could be found here and here

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